Level Effect Cyber Tool Acquired by Maryland-Based Company Huntress

By Iris Gonzalez
A screenshot of the Level Effect website

Huntress, a Maryland-based provider of managed detection and response to cyber threats, announced Tuesday its acquisition of network-aware endpoint detection and response technology from cyber startup Level Effect for an undisclosed amount.

Level Effect co-founders Greg Ake and Robert Noeth will join the Huntress team as part of the acquisition to support the initial integration and ongoing development of their Recon network-aware endpoint detection software.

Like the founding team at Huntress, both Ake and Noeth have strong backgrounds in the U.S. intelligence community, having worked within the National Security Agency, Air Force, and other institutions. The duo has over 20 combined years of experience as intelligence analysts, offensive and defensive cyber operators, and software developers within the National Security Agency. 

“Rob knew of the one founders,” Ake said. “We started talking about how we approach the cyber threat hunting problem but from different angles. We all come from the same NSA background, so they think the same way we do.”

Huntress targets the mid-market enterprise business space. Ake explained how it made sense for Huntress to combine technologies like Level Effect’s Recon software to provide businesses a stronger approach to detecting and stopping cyber threats.

“Cybersecurity is a data problem, which is compounded when you have to deal with different data sets,” Ake said. “You need analysts who know how to use various tools to understand what they’re seeing from the different types of information.”

Level Effect’s Recon tool collects network data from a computer on how it communicates to other computers inside a network or the internet. If a hacker enters one computer and starts to “talk” to other parts of a company’s network in unexpected ways, it’s often a clue that a malicious actor is trying to gain unauthorized access.

“This knowledge gives you a better idea of what the hackers are looking for inside the network, so detecting that anomalous behavior inside the network helps with better detection and faster response to cyber threats,” Ake said.

Ake and Noeth launched Level Effect to help small- and medium-sized businesses handle cybersecurity threats. Yet, the pandemic got them thinking about the rapidly changing workforce and the need to diversify revenue streams.

Despite Huntress’s acquisition of Level Effect’s Recon technology and related intellectual property, Ake and North will continue to operate Level Effect as an independent business that offers cyber training services to security practitioners.

Launched last June during the summer pandemic surge, the Level Effect founders developed a virtual cyber defense analyst training course that is 13 weeks long and costs $8,000. The course content, labs, virtual machines, and networks are accessible regardless of the student’s location to accommodate those training remotely from home during the pandemic.

Upon successful completion, the user is certified as a Cyber Defense Certified Professional (CDCP ), a new certification the Level Effect founders created to describe the skills needed by professionals to do specific tasks associated with cyber defense analyst positions. The Cyber Defense Analyst course curriculum uses and exceeds the knowledge, expertise, ability, and task objectives outlined by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards for cyber education, training, and workforce development.

Read more: Level Effect Debuts Cybersecurity Boot Camp Developed During Pandemic Lockdown

“The CDCP fills a gap in existing cyber defense certifications for both the hard and soft skills that are required and in high demand within the cyber community,” said Ake. “We use real-world security operations scenarios that students must successfully navigate to demonstrate they have the knowledge, skill, and practical application to work within a security operations team.”

Ake and Noeth are both the creators and instructors of the cyber defense analyst course. Level Effect has trained about 50 students since last summer.

“Most of our students are analysts who are upskilling,” Ake said. “About 90 percent of those searching for new jobs have found cyber jobs within months of completing the program.” 

Founded in 2017, the startup was a member of San Antonio’s Build Sec Foundry cybersecurity incubator. They first built a defensive bot or automated software tool to scan a network for criminals and potentially stop them. That software became their Recon technology that was acquired by Huntress.

Last October, the two founders relocated from San Antonio to work remotely from Washington State.

“They are an example of the type of startup we want to see grow and succeed in San Antonio,” said Will Garrett last June, who is also vice president for cybersecurity development at Port San Antonio. “We started Build Sec Foundry to help cyber product companies like Level Effect succeed.”

The featured image is of a screenshot of the Level Effect website.

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